Over the past couple weeks, my email inbox and social media feeds have been swamped with what’s trending and the popular “best of” lists for the past year. I have seen top movies, albums, books, news stories, bars, most popular adult beverages, restaurants, recipes, and dog stories. I even saw a list that had the the best mug shot of 2016. For those who like to compile their own lists, Facebook has a feature that will mash up your photos and posts from the past year so you can have your own “year in review” video to share with your friends and family.
Personally, I enjoy looking back at the past year. I have a lot of fun looking over the trends and different “best of” lists for my professional world of fundraising and database technology. I also enjoy them in the context of my own interests and hobbies. Some of the lists are silly. But they do make for interesting conversations during the holidays, and they serve as a way to regroup and start preparing for next year.
You might be singing the old Frank Sinatra song, “It Was A Very Good Year.” Or you might be playing a sad song on repeat that represents not-so-good memories. Regardless of the song you’re playing right now, the new year is almost here. So I listed a few of my own reflections about the trends of the nonprofit and fundraising world from 2016.
Fundraising Trends From 2016
People Are Still Donating
People want to make a difference. In general, giving is still trending upward. According to several news sources, many nonprofits have reported solid numbers in 2016. This is good news given a long and emotionally charged election year, combined with several ups and downs in the economic forecasts. Last week, the Salvation Army saw a 47% increase in online giving after a player from the Dallas Cowboys brought positive attention to their charity on national television.
Good Storytelling Is The Gateway For Donations
Almost all fundraising experts agree that telling compelling stories and focusing on the impact of the people you serve results in better awareness, loyalty, and donations for your organization. It doesn’t matter how big or small your nonprofit is.
You Cannot Thank Donors And Volunteers Enough
It’s easy to take volunteers for granted, whether they are monthly donors, board members, or folks who help answer phones once a week. One of the main priorities of all nonprofits should be thanking and engaging volunteers often. I have never met a donor or active volunteer who said the organization they represent appreciated them too much.
Social Media Is Powerful
Social media is not going away. With the positive results of programs like Giving Tuesday and many crowdfunding campaigns, online fundraising and social media are here to stay. If you have not embraced the power of social media for raising money and awareness, you are likely leaving opportunity for growth on the table. No matter how long your organization has been in business, you need to be engaged in some form of social media.
Donor Retention Is The Name Of The Game
There is a reason so many articles and resources are devoted to retaining donors and volunteers. Retention is a tried-and-true nonprofit strategy. It should be a priority for all nonprofits who rely on monthly or annual donations. Sure, everyone loves big one-time donations. But my own experience has shown regular donors always prove to be much more valuable. They also tend to be the most loyal to your organization over time. When it comes to retention, thank those donors and volunteers often, and take good care of them.
Nonprofit Work Is Hard But Rewarding
Fundraising work is unpredictable. If I can offer any encouragement to those who are on the front lines every day in the nonprofit sector, know you really are making a difference. Think about your community or the area you serve. What would happen if your organization did not exist? For all the challenges of funding, motivating volunteers and board members, messaging, and various forms of red tape everyone deals with, remember all the good happening because of your nonprofit. Don’t forget what you do makes a difference.
Wishing you all the best in your final days of 2016. As we look ahead to 2017, the entire team at Aplos looks forward to being part of your fundraising journey in the weeks and months ahead.
Happy New Year!